The Brazilian and Indian process of washing for the diamonds has been introduced into the South African mines,
with very satisfactory results in saving numerous specimens
of small size, which constitute a large per cent of all the diamonds found in this region.
As an illustration of the labor required in this business, it
is stated that four hundred slaves were employed three months
to remove a heap of cascalho estimated at fifty thousand
As an inducement to diligence and honesty, freedom was
offered to every slave working in the mines who found a
diamond weighing seventeen and one-half ounces. This event
was attended with considerable ceremony : the fortunate discoverer was crowned with a wreath of flowers, and carried in
procession to the superintendent, who gave him a new suit of
clothes and his liberty, together with permission to work in
the mines on his own account. A touching incident is mentioned of a slave who just missed the boon of freedom by the
lack of only one carat.
Notwithstanding premiums were offered for large stones,
and penalties in the form of chastisements and imprisonments
were enforced for purloining the diamonds, yet a great many
were secreted by diggers even under the strict watchfulness
of the directors.
Some of the South American mines were remarkably productive, yielding in a single locality from twenty thousand to
twenty-five thousand carats annually. The Rio Pardo, an
insignificant stream, afforded large quantities of bluish-green
stones, and the Valho those of large size and great brilliancy.
The diamond region of Cerro do Frio is said to cover about
fifty miles in length and twenty in width. When first discovered, the diamonds of this region were regarded as worth-